Councilman Mitch Englander called Friday for the city to stop dumping trash at a Sylmar landfill, which has been the source of more than 9,000 odor complaints over the past eight years, and to begin the search for an alternative facility.
Residents of Granada Hills and surrounding neighborhoods have long complained of odors emanating from the Sunshine Canyon Landfill, but it wasn’t until recently that the county health department declared that the odors may be putting residents’ health at risk.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District is also in the process of issuing a second abatement order against the facility that would reduce its hours to ameliorate the odor issues.
Saying the landfill’s operator has had enough chances to fix the odor problem, Englander introduced a motion that would instruct the Bureau of Sanitation to start soliciting vendor applications. The motion is expected to be taken up first by the council’s Energy and Environment Committee.
If necessary, the city should look into breaking out of the current contract with Sunshine Canyon’s operator, Republic Services, formerly known as Browning-Ferris Industries, Englander said.
“I don’t believe they are adhering to their end of the contract,” he said.
If the landfill is found to be putting neighbors’ “health at risk,” that “would be a violation of the contract,” Englander said.
The city pays Sunshine Canyon’s operator up to $32 million a year under a contract set to expire in 2021. The city dumps about 3,000 tons of solid waste at the landfill per day.
Englander’s motion also asks the city attorney to look into any legal steps to address “community suffering as a result of odors that affect the health and well-being of residents in the surrounding neighborhoods.”
Sunshine Canyon spokesman Russ Knocke said the company is “disappointed” by Englander’s motion.
The landfill is a “powerful economic engine for the community,” Knocke said.
“We believe it would be more constructive for the community if everyone involved were to work together on viable, long-term solutions that address any concerns about site operations,” he said.
The company has “worked hard to be a good neighbor,” including spending $27 million to upgrade the facility, according to Knocke.
“We operate in full compliance with all city and county permit conditions, enjoy a collaborative working relationship with multiple regulators and have successfully implemented various odor control strategies,” he said.
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